A popular US YouTube creator who prides himself on making videos in which he displays odd behavior to put people off intends to keep at it, even after one of his targets allegedly shot him nearly to death.
Tanner Cook – who regularly makes videos of himself pranking strangers for nearly 40,000 subscribers of the channel Classified Goons – was reportedly playing a practical joke on a man at a mall in the Washington suburb of Dulles, Virginia, at about midday on Sunday. A friend was recording him when things took an almost deadly turn, according to authorities as well as an interview Cook gave to the local TV station WUSA.
The man, identified as 31-year-old Alan Colie, pulled a gun out and shot Cook in the stomach, investigators allege. Cook, 21, survived the wound and had to undergo surgery after first responders brought him to a hospital in critical condition.
“I was playing a … simple … joke, and this guy didn’t take it very well,” Cook told WUSA from his hospital bed.
Cook said the man who shot him “didn’t say anything” before firing on him, which authorities said also caused a panic among mall-goers.
A criminal complaint filed against Colie after the shooting identified Cook as his alleged victim, according to a report in the local Loudoun Times-Mirror. The complaint did not specify a motive for the attack, saying only it resulted from an interaction between Colie and Cook.
It also said Colie was sitting in the shopping center’s food court near a pistol when officers arrested him and subsequently booked him on counts of aggravated malicious wounding, shooting in the commission of a felony, and discharging a firearm within an occupied building.
Cook’s page contains clips of him acting as if he is vomiting on ride-sharing service drivers, making a fast-food restaurant employee nervous by going behind the establishment’s counter, and bothering people at stores.
Sometimes people in the clips are provoked into dramatic reactions. In one video, a man being pranked runs at the camera, and in another clip a store manager calls the police.
Sunday’s shooting certainly appears to be the most violent response yet to Cook. He told WUSA that the video his friend captured had been given to investigators.
It does not appear that Cook was aware Colie had been accused of violent behavior at least once previously.
A criminal complaint reviewed by the Loudoun Times-Mirror said Colie’s father accused his son of punching him twice in the head in 2012. In that case, Colie allegedly told police he had become angry for a few minutes and was unsure of what happened next. Officers booked him over assault and battery, but the case was dismissed in 2014.
A judge ordered Colie detained without bond after Cook’s shooting. There was a preliminary court hearing in the case tentatively scheduled for early May.
Cook’s father, Jeramy, said he and his family were confident he would recover fully. “We live on faith, not fear,” Jeramy Cook said to WUSA.
Tanner Cook told the station he is not angry at Colie. He also said that he does not intend to let the shooting deter him from making more videos, because that is his life’s passion.
“I’m fine,” Cook said to the station.
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